LOOKING AHEAD: Differing Views of Futures

This term, LOOKING AHEAD, popped into my head last night ( 6/17/2013) associated with a rising insight and a sequence of associated thoughts. I played with this as I was in bed trying to sleep and resisted going to the computer.  I woke this morning with the thought in my mind and quickly entered it in my TODO list. This DETAIL (among many details) is relevant for comprehension of the complexity involved in BUS and UPLIFT. Now ( 6/18/2013 1:04 PM ) I will start commentary.

Humankind is quite ignorant of the “full nature” of LOOKING AHEAD, and the vast diversity of personal styles for “facing our futures”. This was the context for the term’s appearance and associated with my current challenges with BUS and UPLIFT. It must also be associated with my recent readings of Rushkoff and Lanier on their significant insights about how our “views” of the future have changed and are changing.

The immediate thoughts prior to LOOKING AHEAD were about the content of early activity of persons within BUS – which focuses on getting to know themselves & others, and our BUS web better. How we are each different in our “views” and “behaviors” re “futures” was one of the topics to explore with BUS – as BUS activity involves “futuring in the Here&Now”.

Also contributing are my recent personal encounters with others related to sequential tasks needing done – such as finishing erecting the shed before the monsoons arrive.  Many others are able to “hold in mind” a cluster of TODOs, some well understood as sequentially dependent, but seemingly both unable and resistant to apply timeline scheduling to required tasks. I realize that my “view” of LOOKING AHEAD is quite different from most people, who vary greatly among themselves.

LOOKING AHEAD is a general label most English speaking persons will relate to.  A needed research study would be to explore how the concept behind “looking ahead” appears in other languages – possibly using the new insight on concepts and analogies discussed in the recent book by Douglas Hofstadter, Surfaces and Essences.

Goggling “looking ahead” forces one to view “looking ahead to”  with “expect” as the main term and associated terms for “expect”. This illustrates already a very heavy bias on pre-determined happenings with the person “looking ahead” having no agency. The weakness of computer search is illustrated by this exercise. Music with “looking ahead” in the title dominates.

  •     believe strongly; anticipate
  •     Synonyms:  apprehend, assume, await, bargain for, bargain on, be afraid, calculate, conjecture, contemplate, count on, divine, envisage, feel, figure, forecast, foreknow, foresee, gather, hope, hope for, imagine, in the cards, look, look ahead to, look for, look forward to, predict, presume, presuppose, reckon, see coming, sense, suppose, surmise, suspect, take, think, trust, understand, wait for, watch for
  •     The verb “looking” does imply something there to be “seen”. What is a good term for considering alternative scenarios where ourselves and other humans can have agency for what happens?

Guided discussions with recording for BUS users would gather data for research and guidelines for “curricula” for learning/organizing projects within UPLIFT.


Consider LOOKING AHEAD for persons still living in isolation from the rest of humankind, as recently in New Guinea and the Amazon. Remember the cargo cults. Without knowledge of a wider world, the future in their inner constructed worlds would be quite different from what those who today are aware of global events and reports of changes.

Once I labeled myself as a futurist. I am not aware of the many sub-branches of futurism, but what I am aware of appear quite limited from my perspective.

How does the continuing emergence of concepts related to time, futures and LOOKING AHEAD occur in different people and cultures?  When and how does it crystallize and can the emergence be resumed?

How does the awareness of our own mortality effect our LOOKING AHEAD?

A recent book (not read yet) proposes a unique hypothesis about why/how humans have evolved their special consciousness. It tweaks the query to why many other species who demonstrate self awareness have not yet developed human-style consciousness. The authors propose that humans developed a way to deny mortality and thus were free to explore future alternatives. A dear friend who has powerful visualization competencies told me that she was blocked in futures envisioning because it eventually included her death.  According to their hypothesis, other animals with self awareness accepted their mortality and blocked futures thinking to avoid such thoughts – and human style cognition was blocked – except for humans.  There is much to be queried about this hypothesis; but it does illustrate how facing mortality can be a factor in how we view our futures. Some say, contrary to this hypothesis, that to fully accept one’s mortality frees one to life fully. A corollary: I have never comprehended how a person can go to war, or even participate in risky activity.

DENIAL: Self-Deception, False Beliefs, and the Origins of the Human Mind, Ajit Varki and Danny Brower. 2013

A study of the different polarized views in contemporary media may be data for better comprehending our differences in LOOKING AHEAD.

My own LOOKING AHEAD can speculate on a future humankind with radically improved cognitive systems. The vast diversity of human individual differences on many relevant cognitive dimensions can be viewed as an early stage of chaos prior to a selective convergence to a more viable HUMANITY.  Related to this is the great difficulty I find many others have in speculating on how things might be significantly different. They are incapable of imagining future populations responding in ways current populations would not respond. For them, some types of change are quite impossible.

Composing the above paragraph brought to mind that my significant distinction between humankind and humanity has not be queried about by anyone.

My unique competencies for LOOKING AHEAD may be due to my lack of mental imagery in all sensory modes. A la Hofstadter, I am not hampered by floods of sensory analogies to mind when thinking on futures. Most others who think via sensory analogies have great difficulty freeing themselves from these constraining contexts.

Hope comes from my study of how some readers of highly conceptual literature are able to control their visual imagery, whereas many readers with strong visual imagery are distracted and cannot focus on conceptual texts. None of these persons deliberately learned to block or control their visual imagery, but it somehow happened and they learned to enjoy conceptual literature.  Most visualizers find reading conceptual literature unpleasant. This I called our Second Literary Crisis – most readers are unable to read literature relevant to their comprehension of the world beyond their local and immediate settings.

Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.